Has the Purim frenzy hit you yet?
The stores in my neighborhood have been showcasing children’s costumes for weeks already. Royal red capes and flared princess gowns seem to be as popular as ever. Last week I even saw some young entrepreneurs setting up shop in the trunk of their car, parked on a busy main road, and business was rocking!
The grocery store aisles are bustling with people doing their mishloach manot shopping, and the party supply stores have enormous displays of baskets, cellophane, ribbon and other packing supplies.
On my walk to work each morning I pass a number of bakeries—all of which have been offering the traditional Purim hamantashen with a full range of fillings for a couple of weeks already. They are pretty to look at, but I am a diehard for the homemade variety.
Have you ever made hamantashen before? Trying to perfect the shape and keep the filling in might seem daunting, but I’m going to break it down for you with step-by-step pictures to make it easier.
First, gather your ingredients. My recipe is dairy, but if you need pareve hamantashen, you can use non-dairy cream cheese, such as Toffutti. It will still be delicious—I can vouch for it.
This recipe yields about 20 hamantashen (unless, like me, you drop one entire tray on the floor while taking it out of the oven . . . then you’ll be left with only 10). If you need more, it can easily be doubled or tripled.
Mix the wet ingredients, then add the flour a little at a time until you form a smooth, soft, but not sticky ball of dough.
Divide the dough in half. Use a rolling pin to roll half the dough out to about ⅛ inch thick. An easy way to roll dough without worrying about it sticking to the rolling pin is to roll it between two sheets of parchment paper. When I first heard this trick, I thought it sounded ridiculously complicated. But since the first time I tried it, I haven’t gone back to “regular” rolling.
Tear a sheet of parchment paper. Place the dough in the center. Push down gently. Tear another sheet of parchment paper the same size, and place it on top of the dough. Put your rolling pin on top of the pile, and gently roll out the dough.
Using a circle-shaped cookie cutter, or the mouth of a glass, cut as many circles into the dough as you can fit. (Although my cookie cutter looks ridged, it is actually two-sided. One side is smooth, which is what I used—the ridged side is facing up, don’t let it confuse you.)
Pull away the extra scraps of dough, and set them aside to be re-rolled and cut into more circles.
Now it’s time to prepare the filling. Decide what you want to use. The most common hamantash fillings are strawberry and apricot preserves, and poppyseed filling, traditionally called mohn. Confession: I’ve never actually tried the poppyseed filling—the way it looks gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Other possible fillings include chocolate, cheesecake, date spread, or even finely chopped apples mixed with cinnamon and brown sugar.
Have you used anything else in hamantashen? What is your favorite filling? I’d love to hear of some new ones.
I used strawberry and apricot preserves, and they came out sticky and delicious. (Well, the ones that fell on the floor were a little too sticky.)
Spoon some filling into the center of each circle. It’s important not to go overboard with the filling—it makes the hamantashen hard to seal when there’s too much inside.
Now it’s time for the tricky part—The Folding. I know some expert bakers who tremble in fear of The Folding, but really, it’s not that scary. It’s all in the dough and the pinching. If you use good dough, and you pinch your corners tightly, the hamantashen will keep their shape and not open up hideously while baking.
Once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze. Repeat until all your circles have been sealed.
Place the hamantashen carefully on a greased pan. Leave some space between them, but mine didn’t spread all that much. (Other recipes may spread more.) Slip them into the oven and bake for 15–20 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your hamantashen. The edges should be very slightly golden when they’re ready.
The preserves will be extremely hot, so I don’t advise biting into them right away, unless you particularly enjoy burning yourself . . .
I also don’t advise dropping the tray on its way out of the oven, like I did . . . It was interesting, though. The cookies didn’t break, but the preserves came flying out and made a gloriously sticky commotion on my kitchen floor.
If you’re leaving the hamantashen plain, you can stop here. Let them cool, and dig in to your heart’s content.
If you’d like to dress them up a little, keep reading.
Melt some chocolate, and prepare some sprinkles and nut crunch. You really don’t need a lot; we’ll just be dipping one corner of each cookie.
Dip one corner into the chocolate, and let the excess drip off. While the chocolate is still wet, dip it into the sprinkles or the nut crunch. Let it dry on a piece of parchment paper. Repeat until all your cookies are decorated and your workspace is a mess (like mine).
nd there you have it—fancied-up hamantashen. Perfect for giving as gifts, serving at your Purim meal, sharing with friends, or just plain eating. Enjoy!
⅓ cup sugar
2 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp. apple or orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla
5 tbsp. cream cheese
1 tsp. baking powder
1½ cup flour
Pinch of salt
Note: For non-dairy hamantashen, use non-dairy cream cheese, such as Toffutti.
A few squares of chocolate
1. Cream sugar, oil, juice, egg and vanilla.
2. Add cream cheese, and mix until combined.
3. Add baking powder, salt and flour. Mix until the dough forms a ball which is not sticky.
4. Roll the dough out, about ⅛'' thick. Using a circle cookie cutter, or the mouth of a glass, cut as many circles as possible.
5. Remove remaining dough, roll and repeat.
6. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle, and fold according to instructions above.
7. Bake at 350° F for 15–20 minutes.
8. Allow to cool before eating or decorating.
9. Will you be making hamantashen this year? Have you done it before? Are you “scared” of The Folding? What is your favorite filling?
10. Happy Purim!
Miriam Szokovski is the author of historical novel Exiled Down Under, and a member of the Chabad.org editorial team. She enjoys tinkering with recipes, and teaches cooking classes to young children. Miriam shares her love of cooking, baking and food photography on Chabad.org’s food blog, Cook It Kosher and in the N'shei Chabad Newsletter.